[ SONG REVIEWS ]
I've always found the best way to listen to new music is in my car. I find an open stretch of highway, turn the tune-up on cremating, and let it scream!
The Haunted North's "Medusa" was my choice for this specific drive. I've been a guitarist for 28 years and I grew up using Guitar World Magazine to teach me the ways of Dimebag, Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King, James Hetfield, and a plethora of more metal artists.
Driving allows me to zone out and immerse myself in what I'm listening to. There is a point in which my eyes will involuntarily narrow, my brow will furrow, my teeth will grit, and my head will start to obey the beat. "Medusa" did not fail to bring forth all of those symptoms.
The grit, low tuning, groove, and sheer balls in Sean Francis' playing caused me to unexpectedly, and rather loudly growl "FUCK YEAH!"..... much to the dismay of my passenger who was lost in her own thoughts.
The tone of his guitar is soaked in that perfect amount of swampy, raunchy, dirt-covered overdrive. It's exactly what we need to feel that rumble in our chest, like many of us metal musicians beg for. It is easy to tell when guitar riffs are played from the heart. Francis does not disappoint with his work here, or for that matter, on any of the other tracks, I've heard from The Haunted North. Rock on, guys. I can't wait to hear more.
A band that has a song titled “Medusa” - you just know the direction of that song. Going back to one of my favorite bands, Trapeze featuring Glenn Hughes, their song titled “Medusa” brought it on and so does The Haunted North.
This US/Canadian based band just levels the field.
From guitarist Sean Francis, digging deep within to bring that classic “Zack” sound which just annihilates. Vocalist Randy V delivers from gut-wrenching emotion to searing highs. Watch out - Bassist Marty Rubin lays down that “smack you in the face” bottom while also delivering melodic lines.
Drummer Andrew Aubut, from delivering straight on beats to melodic polyrhythms. Killer track!
Following on from a superb live project, The Haunted North launch a brand new original single this summer, and it’s one that effectively highlights yet another side to the versatile rock band.
Leading with emotive acoustic finger-picking and dashes of reverb-kissed electric guitar, 21 Grams quickly sets a nostalgic, nineties unplugged sort of mood, with breathy vocals and poetic yet personal lyrics that work hard to draw you in.
Soon enough, things progress from a pick to a strum, still, the set-up is simple, upfront, and honest, and the melody and questioning nature of the lyrics actually lean briefly in something of a Pink Floyd-like direction. Then comes the rhythm, raw yet energizing in itself, drawing up images of a Cajon-assisted performance – still intimate for a moment.
One thing that stood out on the last release was The Haunted North’s fine use of contrast and their united ability to shift effortlessly from softness to absolute weight and intensity. Nowhere does this ability shine more brightly than on 21 Grams.
Suddenly we’re thrust into this progressive rock soundscape, with raspy, mighty vocals, and powerful drum hits that bring together every layer in a moment of intense energy and vibrancy. Here is where the lyrics really reach out, too – resolving the story-line, offering clarity and overcoming, acceptance. It makes you want to head back and re-listen to the whole experience with a little more foresight.
Afterward, an ocean of solos and raw instrumental chaos hits with a beautifully organized, hypnotic precision about it. Clarity and intimacy are replaced by this wall of fuzz-soaked power and volume. It’s a stunning way to develop the track, and it highlights yet again how much attention and care the band pays to the structuring and crafting of their songs. This kind of artistic, meaningful arrangement is sadly quite rare these days, but 21 Grams reignites those memories and their lasting impact with brilliant poignancy.
Fantastic – one to catch at a live show, and a really well-recorded single that’s a joy to turn up loud if you’re a classic, real rock fan. The unusual, seven-minute life-span is even something of an afterthought for the listener – somehow still an experience cut short. Well played.
By: Rebecca Cullen
Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter
Taking live music fans about as close as can be this summer, The Haunted North offer up an energizing live rock set – four original tracks, brought to you straight from the stage; complete with raw energy, passion, and that subtle crowd sound to remind you of the better days.
As an introduction to the band, sometimes the live performance is the best way to go. In this case, the heavy guitar sound and the crash of the drums, meeting with this partly prog-rock vocal that meanders occasionally into Dave Grohl-like territory, meets with notably impressive, engaging songwriting, to win you over on both counts.
Mojave Moon is the opener, a roaring track with brilliant contrast between effective melodies, instrumental weight, and emotional, personal lyricism. There’s even a false finish halfway through, or rather – a sudden switch to an instrumental that begs for a head-banger mosh pit.
One Foot Stuck follows, bass-led with a quirky, intriguing vocal whisper and a direct questioning – Do you talk to your God? Stylish and seductive, a great way to start things up, and another clever contrast with what came before. The Haunted North keep things honest lyrically, and the passion and grit in their performances back this up – a band unafraid to lay bare vulnerabilities in a bold, uninhibited way. Enter the power-chord back and forth, and we’ve swept away on the full-throttle intensity and rhythm of the completed piece.
Next, we get a song called Monster a marching drum paves the way, quick guitar work, and a strange meeting between melancholy and outright terror. Dark and mysterious, the track again showcases another side to the band’s writing. It’s melodic yet heavy, intimate yet raspy and loud, and that balance works well.
The final song on the live EP LiT is unforgettable How Will You Die? Here come those prog-rock qualities, a touch of the simpler decades, a screaming soundtrack with lashings of style and intention. The vocal peaks and strains its way through these outpourings, before resolving with the simple repeat of that question; How will you die – on your feet, or on your knees?
Always a treat to listen to a live project during these times of isolation, better still something so raw and authentic on the hard-rock front. The Haunted North prove themselves to be a conceptually appealing, musically captivating band. Hopefully, we get to check out the real thing sometime soon.
By: Rebecca Cullen
Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter
Real talk time, kids: if you live and breathe true metal music, you have got to discover The Haunted North. The band’s debut record, Monster, is a work of brutal genius that mixes modern rage and lyrical themes with the power metal sensibilities of iconic riff wizards like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath.
Monster isn’t an homage to the old days so much as it is an updated take on the kind of stadium-exploding rock that spread heavy metal around the world in the 20th Century. The sound is hard-edged with powerful vocals and the kind of hooks that could elevate The Haunted North to global Metal God status in its own right.
The tracks on Monster aren’t the atonal modern machine metal heard so often now but are built on actual singing, fierce riffing, dynamics, and ripping pentatonic lead guitar. The lineup of vocalist Randy V, guitarist Sean Francis, bassist ‘JD’ DeServio, and drummer Jeff Fabb is an impressive unit with a vibe that bleeds authenticity and lets each musician’s personality and style be heard.
The result is a supremely listenable record that will put your head through a wall. Tracks like “Mojave Moon,” “How Will You Die,” and “Burnin’ Whiskey” hit like a fist to the face made of high-level skills, musicality, and perfect riffs.
2016 Grammy nominee Justin Shturz (Shinedown & Slipknot) put the final mastering sheen on the songs but what will grab you is the raw and physical nature of this band and this record. The Haunted North taps directly into the things that make heavy music great and its kick-ass American-style blues-influenced metal attack will make a lot of fans very happy. Give this record a chance and it will change your life. It’s changed mine, already.
Independent Music Journalist